I believe in helping brides have their perfect day AND still have some money left to live on afterward!
You're Invited . . . To a Barn Wedding!
OK, so you're in love, you want to get married, and you're broke. You just don't have $25,000 to $30,000 to plunk down on a wedding, which is what the average wedding is running these days. Heck, if you had that kind of money, you'd be paying off your student loans or buying a new car instead of riding around in that 1984 Ford Tempo. Yeah, yeah, it's a classic, but whatever. Time to put on your thinking cap and get creative.
Maybe you're a really casual kind of couple; your fiancé grew up in Iowa on a farm, just your average country boy not quite brought up in a barn, but kinda close . . . hey, wait a minute, BARN, that's it! Why not have your wedding in a barn?!
Now, before you start getting all high and mighty on me, just stop and think for a minute. Barn venues, on average, are a lot cheaper to rent than fancy reception halls. The barn can serve as a wedding and reception site, eliminating the need for having to decorate two separate venues . . . already a cost saving there. Depending on your location, you may actually know someone who has a barn you could use for the wedding.
Rustic barn weddings are very trendy right now, so you'd appear very cutting edge to your friends and family, instead of what you are . . . BROKE! Are you catching on to what a very good thing a barn wedding could be? Good, then hold on to your cowboy hat because here come the ideas to make yours the most memorable wedding ever!
The 3 Crucial Elements for Barn Wedding Décor
There are three main décor elements for barn wedding décor that you're going to be able to use just about everywhere. The great thing about these three is they are cheap, cheap, cheap! The three giants of rustic decorating are burlap, Mason jars, and raffia. With these three things and a little DIY know-how, you can pull off some amazing stuff.
Burlap can be bought by the bolt in wide widths that would make great table toppers or aisle runners or narrower widths (12 to 14 inches) that would be so easy to fashion into chair sashes or table runners. If you're a neat freak (because burlap does ravel!), you can glue the cut edges under with craft glue; if you like the more rustic look, you can fray the edges a little, making a slight fringe.
You just can't say enough about the value and versatility of the lowly Mason jar for rustic wedding decorations. They can be used for everything from pew markers to flower vases, they can hold candles, wedding favors, or lemonade, and at less than $1.00 apiece (vintage blue is usually more), you just can't beat them.
And finally, raffia. Yes, I know it's a little reminiscent of the dreaded blue and rose "country" period during the '80s, but paired with the right elements, it will give you the casual and rustic feel you want without spending a ton of money on expensive ribbon. Tie it around fence posts, shepherd's hooks, the handle of bridesmaid's bouquets, and the lip of mason jars. And a little goes a really LOOOONG way!
Casual Wedding Attire for the Barn Wedding
Since your atmosphere is going to be a bit more casual (you are in a barn, after all!), you can get away with a little less formal attire for the whole wedding party. Note: A little less formal sometimes translates into less expensive! Cowboy boots for the whole wedding party would be entirely appropriate, but beware, cowboy boots, although unassuming, could bust everyone's budget, so unless your attendants were already in the market for some or you already own them or can borrow them, you might want to steer clear no matter how much they were part of your "vision." Short dresses in neutral tones would be great for your bridesmaids, and khaki suits would be ideal for the groomsmen. You could even throw in a Western look with string or bolo ties for the guys.
Be careful with your gown as well. Remember, your dress, if long and loaded with a train, will be dragging along dirty ground and wooden floors where it could easily snag a nail, so beware of lace or lots of ruffles and flounces. Unless, of course, you're going to have an armada of attendants carrying your train for you all day!
Barn Wedding Invitations
While we're on the subject of wedding attire, have you thought about how you're going to tip off unsuspecting guests who aren't very close friends and family the wedding will be in a barn? You don't want female guests showing up dressed to the nines and sinking down in red clay halfway down to their five-inch Christian Louboutins!
Read More From Holidappy
If your venue name doesn't say BARN in it somewhere very prominently, you might want to enclose a separate card letting guests know or design a cute invitation in the shape of a barn with doors that open up to reveal a wedding in progress inside. Also, and this is a worst-case scenario and not out of the realm of possibility, some of your guests may have allergies to grass or hay, so they kind of need to know what they are going to be exposed to in advance.
Lighting Up the Barn
If you've ever been in a barn, you know they aren't the brightest places in the world. Considering you might actually want to see your wedding guests and your lucky groom, this could be an issue. Unless you're lucky enough to have the money to rent a real barn wedding venue which will probably have the lighting issue resolved, you're going to have to tackle this problem on your own. However, it doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on lighting. Gather together as many Christmas lights as your friends and family will let you borrow, some tall ladders, and a few brave friends, and go to work.
If there is no electricity in the barn whatsoever, you may have to rent a generator for all of your lights to run off of, plus some extra-long extension cords. Look in particular for rope lighting, 300 mini-light strands, and icicle lights. Paper lanterns look great in barns, but buying the LED lights to go in them can prove to be expensive, so use your Christmas lights to light them up instead. Follow the architectural features of the barn with your lights, doors, windows, and rafters, leading up to the roof if you can. Use extreme care with any candles around barns. Yes, candlelight is beautiful, but besides old weathered wood, you'll have hay and plenty of other flammable objects. LED candles may be the way to go unless you want your wedding to end up with the same kind of reputation as Mrs. O'Leary's cow!
Barn Wedding Favors
Favors can sometimes be a budget buster, but there are clever ways to give favors without having to hock your engagement ring! Particularly with the casual wedding theme you've chosen, favors can be kept very simple. Is there a particular food item your area is famous for . . . peaches or peanuts in Georgia, apples in Washington, cheese in Wisconsin? Using small brown paper bags as your favor bags and a stencil, color your new initials with a Sharpie on each bag. Scrapbooking scissors can be used to cut a decorative edge on each bag. Then just let guests fill their bags with some fresh produce! Supply old-fashioned baker's twine to tie off the bags as a finishing touch. If you're a foodie, you could even make jelly or jam or even cookie or cocoa mixes in Mason jars as favors. Handmade bath salts are another easy project for quick and easy favors as well, and if you've got a friend who works at a daycare center, she can save the baby food jars for you, which make perfect containers for just about anything.
What Goes in Must Come Out!
If you're not using a venue specifically created for barn weddings and you're using a real live farm with a barn, you may encounter a, how shall we say it, sensitive problem. You have 200 people altogether, eating, drinking, and generally engaging in merrymaking, and an unfortunate fact of life rears its ugly head.
Yes, dear bride and groom, I am talking about nature calling, some sort of restroom facility for your guests close by, so the nearby woods won't become an outdoor potty! Now certainly, the thought of a Porta Potty at an outdoor concert is not your most pleasant college memory, but there are ways to make these unsung heroes more appealing. Depending on your budget, there are actually flushable Porta Johns as well as bathroom trailers which are basically bathrooms on wheels. If your budget can't handle either one of these options, you can still make them a little more pleasant.
Start by decorating around them with pots of flowers or a funny or cute sign on the door. Inside, pleasant-smelling air fresheners and deodorizers, and LED candles for light can help to make them downright homey. Be sure to include lots of good-quality toilet paper to enhance the whole potty experience!
More Rustic Wedding Ideas
Rustic and vintage-themed weddings are still so popular and don't show any sign of fading away anytime soon. In this economy, couples are smart to figure out ways to have a beautiful wedding while cutting costs, whether in a barn, a park, or their own backyard.
© 2012 DIYweddingplanner
I've heard on July 14, 2016:
Which fabric is the best for some barn doors drapery? I have heard gossamer,muslim fabric,and even organza.
Kenneth Avery on May 20, 2014:
You are so kind. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And I am totally-sincere.
I look forward to you being one of my cherished-followers.
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on May 20, 2014:
Thanks, Kenneth! I appreciate your kind words. Now I guess I going to have to return the favor and check out some of your hubs! ;)
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on May 07, 2014:
This is an excellent piece of writing. Amazing, to be precise.
I loved every word of it. Voted up and all the choices because you deserve it. You have such
a gift for writing. Just use it without a selfish motive and no telling at how far you will go
and how many people you will touch.
I am going now to leave you some fan mail and become a follower.
I cordially invite you to read one or two of my hubs, and be one of my followers.
If you want to leave me any tips, suggestions on how to impove my hubs, just tell me. I need
all of the help I can get.
Kenneth/ from northwest Alabama
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on January 10, 2013:
Thanks, FullofLove. I agree, I've seen some amazing before and afters of barn weddings and it's incredible what can be done with lighting and drapes. Plus, I've seen some adorable use of coverings for hay bales as seating.
FullOfLoveSites from United States on January 10, 2013:
You can still have a casual but elegant wedding in a rustic barn. I love that idea. Plus you can be closer to Nature, making the event more meaningful.
Voted up, beautiful/awesome and shared
SkeetyD on October 05, 2012:
This was so informative. Thank you for sharing. When I got married, we were working on a very small budget and we decided to have our ceremony outside in an esplanade. We wrote to the government to ask permission since it was a public area. Not only did we permission, but the government department sent workers to clean up the area and reserve the space. It came off beautifully. Just goes to show that money doesn't buy elegance. Christmas lights in the barn: beautiful
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on October 05, 2012:
Thanks, dharris. My goal is to eventually own my own wedding venue with house, gardens, and a barn, of course!
Dawn Harris from Springfield, OH on October 05, 2012:
I really like this idea, its creative and fun.
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on October 04, 2012:
Thanks, Mitch, guess I need to go read that one now!
Mitch Turnure from South Jersey on October 04, 2012:
Useful - Funny - Interesting
Great Hub...I'm going to link to your HubPages homepage from one of my Hubs about cost effective but memorable ways to "pop the question"...Keep Hubbing.
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on September 25, 2012:
I love them, too, LRC. What I don't love is the ones Ive seen lately where the've brought the fancy chair covers and linens into the barn. It loses the whole feel of what you intended when you chose a barn wedding as your wedding venue. I say if you're getting married in a barn, bring on the burlap, mason jars and hay bales and keep to the theme!
Linda Crist from Central Virginia on September 24, 2012:
I'm long past bride stage but I absolutely love this hub and think it's the most awesome idea. I have had a love affair with old barns for as long as I can remember (have written two hubs about it) and so the idea of a barn wedding just warms my heart. Great job. Vote up and awesome.
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on August 29, 2012:
Thanks, DMV. It's getting to be the perfect season for a barn wedding, too with the weather cooling off. I think it would be a perfect fall wedding!
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on August 18, 2012:
I agree, MissingPiece! I think the relaxed feeling of the atmosphere really says a lot about the couple and although a decorating challenge, they can be made to look absolutely gorgeous!
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on May 01, 2012:
Thanks, Julie. I appreciate the plug! Pinterest is a great place to share ideas. I have to admit to a slight addiction! It's a really great place in particular for brides to share ideas. You can plan an entire virtual wedding there!
Julieonline on April 30, 2012:
Gorgeous idea! Adding your hub to my wedding themes board on Pinterest.
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on April 13, 2012:
Thanks, Laweigle. I love barn weddings. I think they are very personal and meaningful and prove you don't have to have fancy surroundings to have a beautiful wedding.
laweigle on April 13, 2012:
this is such an awesome and beautiful idea!
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on April 10, 2012:
Thanks, Jamie. Seems as barn weddings have really become more popular, I am seeing more and more drop dead gorgeous and unique ways to decorate and light them. They're definitely not for everyone, but for a bride and groom with a down to earth outlook on life, I think they're perfect!
Jamie Brock from Texas on April 10, 2012:
This barn wedding is gorgeous!!!! I love the photo with the jar lanterns hanging in the tree and also with the lights draped across overhead in the barn.. really pretty. Thank you for sharing :)
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on April 05, 2012:
Chantel, try these:
Bryon Colby Barn in Grayslake: http://www.prairiecrossing.com
Oak Hill in Galena: http://www.oakhillwedding.com
Chantel on April 05, 2012:
I want a barn wedding but live in Chicago.. do you know of any good barn venues here or near here?
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on February 14, 2012:
Thanks, Shaddie. If I could have a do-over, I think I'd like to have this one, too. Something about a barn wedding and having a small group of close friends there just seems to make the wedding a lot more intimate.
Shaddie from Washington state on February 14, 2012:
Beautiful idea. I have always wanted an outside wedding, but this idea is also quite attractive. Great Hub, lots of good ideas!
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on February 09, 2012:
Thanks, Ruby Rose. Barns really are great places for weddings. If you can find one to use for free , even better!
Maree Michael Martin from Northwest Washington on an Island on February 09, 2012:
Great place for a wedding, thanks for all the details too. Beautiful pictures.
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on February 06, 2012:
Business Time, it's a toss-up as to who is more excited about your wedding, you or me, can't wait to see the final outcome! Send pics!
Sarah Kolb-Williams from Twin Cities on February 06, 2012:
Love this!! We're doing a lot of these ideas, but next to a pond in a wooded outdoor venue. Love the hay bale idea -- we'll have to see if we can borrow some from the neighboring farm!
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on February 06, 2012:
Thanks, IGN. spring is almost here, it would be a great time for a barn wedding! Thanks for reading.
iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on February 05, 2012:
Fantastic wedding ideas...
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on February 04, 2012:
I hang out a lot on a wedding site and you wouldn't believe the number of brides who are having barn weddings now. Most of them are having the ceremony outdoors and doing the reception in the barn. I think vintage and rustic weddings are here to stay for awhile!
Stephanie Henkel from USA on February 04, 2012:
Very creative! For those guys and gals who love the rustic, down-home feel, this is a great idea for an inexpensive, yet unique wedding!
DIYweddingplanner (author) from South Carolina, USA on February 03, 2012:
Thanks, Tess, very succinct!
Tess45 from South Carolina on February 03, 2012:
As usual - great hub